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Series / The Saint

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"You're the famous Simon Templar!"
— The end of every pre-credits sequence

The series started in 1962. Its hero is charming, well-dressed, intelligent, British and ready to fight the bad guys—not to mention played by Roger Moore. We're talking, of course, about The Saint.

Created by Leslie Charteris in a series of books, Simon Templar, nicknamed The Saint (because of his initials), is a world-famous amateur detective who operates as a modern-day Robin Hood. Many episodes of the Moore series adapted short stories and novels from the book series.

Aside from providing Moore with his defining pre-007 role (by the time the series came to an end in 1969, Moore was the highest-paid television actor in the world), The Saint was also a significant milestone for Lew Grade and his ITC production company; with 118 episodes, it was outlasted only by The Avengers, and enjoyed enormous success internationally. It has been credited as earning ITC as much as $350 million, and along with the aforementioned Avengers paved the way for ITC's sprawling catalogue of (usually much shorter-lived) adventure and mystery shows, including The Champions, Department S, Jason King, The Baron and many others.


After it finished in 1969, it was followed in 1978 by a revival titled Return of the Saint starring Ian Ogilvy. Virtually identical to the Moore series (right down to the opening narration), except for being set in the late 1970s, the revival lasted a single season. Additional attempts have been made to bring Simon back to TV, the most successful (to a degree) being a series of Australian-made TV movies that were syndicated in North America in the late 1980s.


The Saint provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Personality Change: Simon Templar in the series, differed from that of the books. The character of the original stories had a more hard edge and had no qualms about committing murder. Therefore, as written in the series, Templar had to be made more likable and less inclined to kill. In the books Templar was a thief who steals from other criminals, but in the TV version he is a rich unemployed "adventurer" who hangs around in casinos and hotel lobbies waiting for the week's plot to arrive, while making Inspector Teal of the Yard angry because he has no reason to arrest Templar yet again.
  • Aesop Enforcer: In "The Golden Journey", Simon Templar encounters his friend's beautiful, rich, and very spoilt fiancee Belinda. He sets her up for a life-changing lesson by stealing her money and possessions, leaving her no choice but to undertake a long journey with him on foot. After encountering many hardships on the way, she learns that there are more important things than money, and becomes much more pleasant.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Simon Templar.
  • Blindfolded Trip: The episode "Simon and Delilah" had Simon Templar made prisoner and driven around a city. Too bad they passed some locations that made very characteristic sounds.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Early seasons began each episode with Simon Templar talking directly to the audience to set the scene for the episode. When the series moved to color production, this was dropped in favor of off-screen narration.
    • Upon people recognising him, The Saint will often look upwards (and then often at the camera - see the illustration on this page for an example) as an animated halo appears to segue into the Title Sequence.
  • The Cavalry: In one episode, Simon Templar actually refers to a useful group of friendly sailors as "the cavalry" after they burst in and beat up the bad guy's Mooks for him.
  • Cold Open: Home of the aforementioned fourth wall breaking.
  • Cool Car: The white Volvo P1800.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: In "The Organisation Man", Templar, working undercover for British military intelligence, has infiltrated a small private army whose current assignment is to liberate a captured, high-profile spy. They're disguised in the stolen tartans of a detachment of Scottish soldiers who were due to take over guard duty, and on handover, are being inspected by the current guard commander. Their disguises are perfect (as befits a regiment known for their punctilious attention to detail), up until the point when the commander notices that they've all placed their sgian-dubh knives in the wrong sock - the right rather than the left.
  • Death Ray: In one episode, a defecting Soviet scientist is murdered with his own weapon for the secrets of the death ray he has just invented; at the end of the episode, the killer runs away with the only working prototype; he trips, falls, drops the device, the beam accidentally activates, and....
  • Denser and Wackier: Much like The Avengers, the series started out with grounded mystery plots and got very outlandish in its later seasons.
  • Disguised in Drag: The villain of the first episode drags up as an old woman so he can murder his wife.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Being played Roger Moore, Simon Templar is a natural at this.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Simon Templar, of course.
  • Gladiator Games: "The Man Who Liked Lions" has Simon Templar running afoul of a thuggish Roman revivalist.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: This happens to Simon Templar in the episode "To Kill a Saint". When nightclub owner Paul Verrier is tricked into believing that The Saint has tried to murder him, Templar goes to see him to try to resolve the situation. However, Verrier assumes that he's Braddock, a hitman whom Verrier has hired to kill Templar. Templar quickly adopts the role, and so becomes the hitman with a contract on himself.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most episodes, especially in the black-and-white episodes, are called The Adjective Noun. ("The Careful Terrorist", "The Covetous Headsman", "The Romantic Matron", and so on.)
  • Inspector Antagonist: Chief Inspector Teal.
  • Just Like Robin Hood
  • Large Ham: The episode "Island of Chance" has Dr. Charles Krayford (David Bauer) - a disgraced, reclusive scientist working to create a panacea to share with the world (using, of course, flasks of bubbling, coloured liquids and sundry interconnected glassware). He's utterly dedicated to his research, and earnestly chews the scenery whenever pleading his case. He goes all-out in his death scene, which ends up being rather narmy as a result.
  • Laser Hallway: Done rather well and "realistic" in the two-part episode "The Fiction Makers", which first aired in December 1968 and was later released as a theatrical film. Instead of a hallway, it was a corridor between two fences.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: In "The Master Plan", Simon Templar and Girl of the Week Jean find themselves locked in a hidden cell which can only be opened by sliding a sculpture, visible through a small viewing hole, on the wall opposite the entrance. He happens to notice Jean fiddling with the beads of her necklace - by pulling the string taut, he uses it to reach the switch and release the door.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Patricia Holm was always ready to wait for The Saint in his early adventures.
  • No Fourth Wall: The first season began each episode with Simon Templar addressing the audience and setting the scene for each week's adventure. After the show moved to color production, this was replaced by narration.
  • Novelization: Although many episodes of the series actually adapted short stories, novellas and novels already published as part of the long-running book series, a number of original episode storylines were in turn adapted as part of the Saint book series. Several Return of the Saint episodes were also adapted.
  • Phrase Catcher: Right before the opening credits, somebody would always refer to "... the _____ Simon Templar." (Fill in the blank with 'illustrious', 'infamous', or something like that.) Which would cause Simon to glance up and note the halo appearing over his head, leading into the Title Sequence.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Initially averted in "The man who gambled with death" where a millonaire with a heart condition wanted to use cryogenics until open heart surgery was commonplace. He did several animal tests, and wanted to start human testing with somebody else, but at the end of the episode, Simon Templar escaped and a heart attack forced the man to enter his machine in emergency.
  • Protagonist Title: Simon Templar, a.k.a The Saint, is the protagonist.
  • Road Trip Romance: "The Golden Journey" was loosely based on this idea. Simon Templar manipulated circumstances in such a way that the spoilt, entitled fiancee of his friend would be compelled to travel rough with him and learn to be more kind and sensitive.
  • Setting Update: The stories are contemporary, despite being based on a book series that started in the 1920s.
  • Shout-Out: One early black and white episode features a rare case of a predictive shout out. At the end of an episode, a middle-aged woman tells Templar she knows who he really is: James Bond. After this, Templar breaks the fourth wall as the Saint halo appears above his head (a rare case of this happening at the end of an episode). Moore, of course, would go on to play Bond in the 1970s, though he did appear as Bond in a spoof for a British TV show during his time as the Saint.
    • Moore was also the first choice to play James Bond in Dr. No, but he was tied in to his contract to play The Saint, and they had to go with Sean Connery instead.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Chief Inspector Teal.
  • The "The" Title
  • Victory Through Intimidation: One episode had Simon Templar holding off a few mobsters:
    Mobsters: You can't shoot all of us!
    Templar: Which of you wants to be a hero?
  • Vocal Evolution: During the black and white series, Roger Moore played Simon Templar with an American accent (as the character from the stories hailed from the United States). By the time the colour series went into production, the accent became more British.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: In "The Power Artists", Simon Templar has to hide a corpse in plain sight by covering it in plaster of Paris and leaving it on display in a studio. Inevitably, the sculpture gets knocked over.


Example of: